As promised, here are my thoughts on the latest fintech event held last Thursday in the Royal Institute, Mayfair.
The opening scene was set in the historic auditorium, where almost 100 years earlier, Faraday had begun his journey. He would have been a little surprised by the raging montage of Wall St and WoWS images, projected and accompanied by thumping cocaine infused mussak. This was like Johnny Rotten serenading the Queen on her birthday. Mixed into this mayhem of the worst abuses of capitalism, was the message that Equity Crowdfunding is a to be taken seriously.
Somehow it was not very convincing.
This was closely followed by the Crowdfinders' resident comic with the odd hair and eventually thank goodness, some slightly old fashioned sense from Lord Bilimoria. My initial thoughts were that I should get a grip and move with the times but on talking to delegates, the overall opinion was that this preppy style was passe and slightly desperate.
The first panel event didn't make things any better. A question about the recent Rebus collapse, was met with a completely false statement from one of the panel of 'experts', that this company was definitely fraudulent. This went unchallenged by the chair or any of the other panellists, most of whom I suspect had never heard of Rebus. Rebus may have been fraudulent and then again it may not - we have no evidence yet either way. This was just grandstanding of the worst kind. It is also highly irresponsible - a theme that reoccurred throughout the day.
Walking the sponsors rooms revealed tables staffed by people who made me feel positively geriatric. As we have said here before equity crowdfunding requires experienced business people to run its portals, not interns just out of the university bubble. However The Mingling proved very useful. There are plenty of sensible investors and angels out there, I just wish they would stick their heads above the parapet now and then before it becomes too late.
A quick diversion of a culinary kind. I may have been out of the system for a while, but when did ramekins half filled with mini sausage and a teaspoon of potato get called 'lunch'? Then again is was on the house so one shouldnt be ungrateful - especially as it was hard to find anyone who had paid for their ticket.
So what can we learn from Crowdfinders 2016?
Equity Crowdfunding, being a new internet based industry, has attracted the young guns and shunned experience - in the main. It will not last this way - investors who are now happy burning £1000 on a punt in order to feel they are part of the entrepreneurial elite, will become disillusioned with the crass way this is all being handled.
On the way home I watched the film The Big Short. As a holder of a substantial number of AIG shares in 2008, I knew what to expect. However I was not prepared for the multi layered denial that led to the crisis. Equity Crowdfunding is not another 2008 crash, but it has some close similarities and it's time we learnt some lessons instead of making the same old dumb mistakes.